Complications of Choosing Weight Loss Surgery Abroad

Posted by Patrick Domkowski on Wed, Dec 12, 2012

There’s no doubt about it: struggling with obesity can be frustrating and exhausting. Some patients become so desperate to regain their health that they search for the quickest, cheapest option for bariatric surgery that they can find. Unfortunately, the quickest and cheapest option isn’t always the safest.

Traveling abroad for weight loss surgery can seem appealing to many patients. But this increasingly popular option, sometimes referred to as medical tourism, can be deceiving. In the long run, deciding to have your weight loss surgery performed abroad can be both medically and financially disastrous.

What are the financial damages of having weight loss surgery abroad?

One of the major reasons patients sometimes travel abroad for weight loss surgery is to save money. Covering the cost of weight loss surgery is stressful for many patients, especially those who have been denied insurance coverage for weight loss surgery. Without the financial assistance their insurance company could provide, some patients feel forced to look for a cheaper alternative.

Medical tourism for weight loss surgery can seem like a good option because the price tag for the surgery can range anywhere from 40 to 80 percent less than having the surgery performed locally. But many patients fail to consider post-surgical expenses.

After surgery, patients will need follow-up care and may even suffer complications. Insurance companies often won’t cover the medical costs associated with complications that occur from surgeries performed abroad. This often means patients are forced to pay for their own follow up care and can mean spending the same amount they would have spent had they not traveled for surgery.

Except for a lucky few, having weight loss surgery abroad often fails to save patients money in the long run.

uncertaintyWhat are the health risks of medical tourism for weight loss surgery?

Every surgery has risks. When patients make the decision to travel abroad for weight loss surgery, they’re essentially increasing their risks because they can’t be sure of the quality of care they’ll be given.

The U.S. has high standards of quality and regulatory agencies that are in place to ensure patients are in good hands. But not all countries have the same standards, which can put patients at risk. Some facilities may follow international guidelines for patient care, but there’s still a risk that you’ll end up at a bariatric center that’s just after your money.

According to the Medical Travel Quality Alliance, some common complications that occur as a result of having surgery performed abroad include:

  • postoperative complications such as infections
  • band slipping or leaking
  • delays in diagnosing problems
  • difficulties and complications in adjusting bands
  • poor long term results as far as sustained weight loss

The American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery also warns that patients can develop infectious complications, be put at high risk for venous thromboembolic events (such as blood clots), and can develop gastrointestinal leaks after being discharged from the surgeon’s care.

Suffering from complications after surgery can be scary, especially when you’re far from your home and loved ones. They can also be scary once you’ve returned home and are a long distance away from the surgeon who performed your operation. When things occasionally do go wrong, having your surgeon close by can be a big help in your recovery.

Should you travel abroad for weight loss surgery?

Overall, making the decision to travel abroad for weight loss surgery may not be the best option for your health. According to the ASMBS preoperative education, continuity of care and long-term follow up are proven essential components for successful bariatric surgery outcomes. And these essentials just aren’t always provided when patients travel abroad for bariatric surgery, then have to travel back home and away from their doctor and care facility.

It’s understandable that patients want to find a quick, cheap alternative for weight loss surgery, but patients who travel abroad for weight loss surgery could be putting their health at risk. Before you consider traveling abroad for weight loss surgery, remember that it’s not always as quick and inexpensive as it seems.

Before you decide to travel for weight loss surgery, let Riverside Surgical and Weight Loss Center help you weigh the pros and cons of all of your weight loss surgery options. You may be surprised to discover that the best option for your health and wallet is closer than you think.


Tags: Weight Loss Surgery Abroad

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